As I talked about in ⇒ my last post ⇐ 2018 is going to be a crazy year for Whitney and me as we transition into semi-retirement. We plan to work the first half of the year, January-June, and then “slow travel” internationally the second half of the year, July-December. Our one-way ticket to Europe is booked, and we fly out on July 16th. In between finishing work and taking our trip, we plan to sell both our camper and our truck in order to minimize monthly expenses while we’re gone and to give us additional money to live on for those 6 months without having to withdraw from our investments. Financially, I believe that not only will I be able to survive while not working and being out of the country for 5-6 months, but that I’ll actually come back with a higher net worth than when I leave due to investment returns and income generated from this blog and other sources.
I have a rough outline of where we will be going and staying for the 5-6 months, but it is definitely subject to change as we continue to research about the areas. We have the first month planned and mostly set already. We will gradually book the rest of the trip a month at a time as we get our plans finalized. Here is the plan so far:
- 7/17-7/21: Edinburgh, Scotland
- 7/21-7/28: Dublin, Ireland
- 7/28-8/4: Agadir, Morocco
- 8/4-8/9: London, England
- 8/9-9/20: Chiang Mai, Thailand
- 9/20-10/4: Phuket, Thailand
- 10/4-10/11: Bangkok, Thailand
- 10/11-10/18: Siem Reap, Cambodia
- 10/18-11/2: Phnom Phen, Cambodia
- 11/2-11/9: Krong Kaeb, Cambodia
- 11/9-11/24: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- 11/24-12/1: Hanoi, Vietnam
- 12/1-12/15: Hai Phong, Vietnam
Typing all of that out gets me very excited. My first time out of the country was September of last year (a resort in Jamaica), so I’m far from a world traveler. This trip should be one of the coolest experiences of both of our lives. We are also considering visiting Myanmar while in northern Thailand and Laos while in northern Vietnam, both to see the countries and to make sure that we don’t overstay our Visas, but we haven’t got that all planned out yet. We are staying for 6 weeks in Chiang Mai because we’ve heard such great things about it and because we want to have some time during that part of the trip to rest, recharge, and work on the blog.
- In regard to our trip itinerary, we have chosen to spend the majority of this trip in Southeast Asia. A big motivator for this is the low cost of living and affordability of traveling there, in addition to the awesome things we have heard from other travelers. In the future, we plan to travel to other areas, but for this first trip since we’re not quite to financial independence, we thought this would be a good start.
- Most of our flights will be free with credit card reward points, but some of the shorter, less expensive ones we will pay for out of pocket.
- In Southeast Asia, most of our traveling between cities will be by bus which is extremely affordable there.
- Most of, if not all of, our housing will be through Airbnb. We know we could probably save some money by staying in hostels, which has been recommended to us by several other travelers who have taken similar trips. But we like the idea of having everything planned out ahead of time and being able to read reviews about where we will be staying, especially for our first major trip out of the country.
- We plan to do a lot of walking and sight seeing for free, like we have always done on our trips. We will take some excursions and paid tours, but we are going to do our best to keep expenses reasonable. I’m planning to budget between $1,000-$1,250/month for me while out of the country, and Whitney is budgeting a similar amount. As I said about Chiang Mai, some of our time there will be spent relaxing and enjoying “living” in the local area, which is the essence of “slow travel.” We don’t want to over-plan our trip and be exhausted from doing so many “touristy” things.
- We will both only be taking a big backpack and a small day pack with us instead of worrying about taking big suitcases on all of the flights. Not only will this save us money on the flights due to not checking bags, but we also won’t need to worry about lost luggage or hauling heavy bags since we will be traveling on so many different airlines, buses, trains, taxis, etc. This is certainly going to be a challenge for us packing-wise (especially Whitney), but we know that it’s going to make our trip so much easier. And, we can always buy some things while we’re there if needed.
- We plan to forego health insurance while out of the country and instead buy travel insurance for any major medical problems if they happen to arise.
Whitney and I are both very excited about this trip and can’t wait to go! As I said earlier, this is only a rough outline, so things will probably change as we research and talk to others that have taken similar trips.
If you have been to any of these countries and have recommendations of things to do or places to go, please comment below or send me an email! Thanks for reading!
15 thoughts on “Planning Our Trip to Europe, Africa, and Asia: 2018 “Slow Travel””
Great trip!! I’m excited for y’all. I just got back from Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and India) and I’ve also been to Siem Reap in Cambodia as well. A few thoughts/suggestions:
1. Chiang Mai was definitely one of my favorite towns. Be sure to eat at Mr. Kai’s restaurant and order the khao soi and mango sticky rice (warning though, he has like 2-4 locations and they could change by the time you get there, don’t always trust Google maps for his location). Also look for the woman with a cowboy hat, she cooks a pork dish I believe and Anthony Bourdain visited her. Also the Chiang Mai night bazaar is a great place to browse clothes/food/souvenirs (open each night after 6pm). Go to Warorot market for more of a local’s market for theoretically local prices. Get massages frequently. I totally get it if you’re trying to save money for the long trip, but I would highly recommend doing an excursion or two esp in Chiang Mai. The Zabb E. Lee cooking school was a great value and they give you a cook book at the end. Everyone also goes here to see the elephants but if you do, I would encourage y’all to pick one of the ethical companies that don’t include riding.
2. Bangkok — Plenty of temples across the city that you can see, the city palace ticket is sorta expensive last I remember (~$20?). There’s a great pad thai food truck that opens up at night at the base of the stairs at Ratchathewi station (it’s a stop on their BTS Skytrain). He cooks in a huge wok in front of a 711 and he puts out tables and chairs so you can’t miss him. The locals even recommend this guy. Take the BTS, get the unlimited pass, it’s very worth it. Go to the weekend market (Chatuchak), it’s HUUUUGE, you can definitely get lost in it, but great food and lots of cool things to browse.
3. Siem Reap — go to these ruins in the morning at sunrise! everyone does this and you get some great photos. Also I would recommend that you shorten your stay in Siem Reap… Not going to lie, there’s not much to do other than see the ruins. I think I spent 2 nights here and it already felt like too much for me.
4. Hanoi– you must see Ha Long Bay!!! It’s is exceptional and people go to Hanoi specifically to access Ha Long Bay. I’ve been twice and I recommend the 3day/2night Dragon Pearl ship with Indochina Junk, it’s their smaller ship but it’s more intimate, their company is less touristy and their food is awesome.
And throughout your time in SE Asia, be sure to haggle haggle haggle (esp cab/tuk tuk rides and souveneirs/clothes). The price they give is never anywhere close to the real price. Feel embarrassed by how far you low ball the price and don’t be afraid to walk away.
That should be enough to digest for now but let me know if y’all have any questions!
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Wow, thanks for the recommendations! I really appreciate it. I’m glad you mentioned staying in Siem Reap less time. We’ve been wondering if we should change the amount of time we are planning to allocate to each place. I’ve heard about Ha Long Bay but so far haven’t looked into going there. We will check it out though because I had a patient from Vietnam yesterday and she told me that she doesn’t suggest staying in Hanoi for more than a day or two before going to the coast or the mountains. The more I read and talk to people, the more our plans change! Haggling will be difficult for me so I’ll just defer to Whitney for all negotiations :D. Thanks again!
2 days in Hanoi is probably plenty. Although, it’s the only city in the world where I’ve had a 25 cent beer. I love the mountain area near Sapa. Also, don’t stay in Ho Chi Minh very long. Go to the Meekong Delta or something.
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Thanks for the advice! Definitely still have some research to do on the SE Asia portion of our trip. So far we have only booked the Europe portion and the flight to Asia.
That’s an incredible itinerary, and an ambitious one for a guy who has only left the country once for Jamaica. Good for you for having the cajones to dive into the deep end!
On our first “slow travel” trip to Guanajuato, Mexico, the other vagabonds we met had all spent significant time in SE Asia. I hear English is commonly spoken pretty much everywhere. That wasn’t the case where we were in Mexico. We had to struggle with our pre-school level Spanish.
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I have to admit I’m a little star struck having you comment on one of my posts haha. Thanks for stopping by!
I’ve never been known for taking things slow so jumping all the way in on a crazy trip is probably par for the course. I am nervous about it though. Mexico is somewhere I’m planning to check out in the next couple of years as well. I’ve heard great things about some of the areas there. I plan to try to learn some of the basic words in each language of the places we’re going but I’m definitely going to be relying mostly on English. I’ll have to brush up on my Spanish before Mexico. The three years I took in high school didn’t stick very well.
I highly recommend staying at Chai Lai Orchid when you’re in Chang Mai.
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Thanks for the recommendation! We’ll be sure to check it out!
Really enjoyed your post and love the concept of spending 6 months working and 6 months traveling. I’ve traveled a lot and went a few times to SE Asia. Here are a few of my recommendations:
1. Packing: I use an Osprey Porter 46 backpack with the Osprey Daylite day pack. They’ve worked out really well for me. I carry them onto the flights so no checked baggage fees. I like Osprey because it is a side loading backpack (rather than top loading) so it is a lot easier to get stuff in and out of. I also highly recommend getting packing cubes to help condense clothes to fit. I usually have one bigger cube for shirts and a smaller one for underwear/socks.
2. Visas: You mentioned wanting to go to Vietnam and possibly Myanmar. Keep in mind for both of these places, you will need to get a visa prior to arriving in the country. You can do this by sending your passport to the country’s embassy in the US or I believe you can obtain one while you are in Bangkok. For the other countries you named, you can likely get a visa on arrival either free or for a small fee. Also make sure your passports have at least 6 months before they expire (or in your case 1 year since you’ll be traveling for 6 months) with enough visa pages to collect all the stamps you are going to get 😉
3. Internal Travel: Around SE Asia there are a lot of discount plane tickets. You mentioned going by bus but it might be worth it to check out some flights as these can often be fairly cheap. For travel within Bangkok, use a meter cab or uber. The tuk-tuk’s will likely take you to tailor shops and other stores expecting that you’ll purchase something before taking you to the end destination. Also, if someone tells you that it is a special holiday and a tourist site is closed, don’t believe them.
4. Countries: I agree with Matt’s comment on less time in Siem Reap. There isn’t too much there other than Ankor Wat. I really enjoyed Laos for it’s off the beaten path appeal…way less tourists and beautiful landscapes. The food is also pretty good with it’s French Asian fusion. I noticed you didn’t include Malaysia on the list. It’s also a good country and still fairly cheap. We stayed in the Doubletree hotel in Kuala Lumpur which was gorgeous for maybe 10,000 hilton points a night.
5. Health: You probably know this already know this but you should check which vaccinations you might want to get prior to traveling. For water, make sure to drink bottled and use it to brush your teeth and be careful with eating raw veggies that you didn’t wash yourself. Eat at restaurants where you see a lot of others eating. Also get yourself a good guide book. I usually like the Lonely Planet. Oh yeah, and keep toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you since most public use toilets won’t not have any and you might also get to enjoy a squatting toilet.
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Wow, thanks for all the advice! We already bought our travel bags (Timbuk2 wingman) which fits the max size you can take on Ryanair and zips like a suitcase but carries like a backpack or messenger bag. However we are struggling finding a “personal item” sized bag that meets the size requirements for Ryanair, easyjet and eurowings (the Airlines we’ve booked on so far). Limiting to all their lowest requirements makes basically a purse size and will prove difficult for fitting a laptop.
We definitely have some further research on acquiring visas for each country and which vaccinations to get. But we are going to do our general layout and book the major flights and accommodations then get to those things after.
Whitney has some reservations about Cambodia in general so she’s happy to hear less time in Siem Reap. We’re hearing more and more about Laos so thanks for adding to that- will definitely consider!
Ha thanks for the heads up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Never considered it! Good to know!
Thanks again! Really appreciate your input! Thanks for reading!!!
Reading your list makes me super excited for you as I am an occupational therapist with a thirst for travel as well. Edinburgh is awesome and I would highly recommend checking out Pinnies & Poppyseeds for the best shortbread of your life. It is right off the Royal Mile so it is an easy stop when checking out the castle or Parliament. Dublin is also super cool, and from the looks of your picture, the Cliffs of Moher is already on your list. To this day, it is still one of my favorite places I have ever been. I recommend renting a car and driving around the country (Dingle, Kinsale, Cork, and Cove are all fun places to see). I loved Morocco! Went to Marrakesh, Essaouira, and an overnight camel trek in the Sahara desert. Get ready for the delicious tangines and the mint tea, they are delightful! I actually just got back from Cambodia and loved it. Be prepared for the rough history of the country which is definitely hard to stomach. Angkor Wat is unbelievable and HUGE, you can easily spend many days touring the temples. Siem Reap is a cool city, but extremely touristy. Phenom Pehn was awesome too. I recommend getting a tuk tuk for the day to drive you around to see the sites. We walked the first day and then got a driver the second day and it was well worth it. If you like beer, we found awesome breweries in Phenom Pehn and in Siem Reap that I would highly recommend as well.
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Thanks for all the advice! We are excited! Sounds like a lot of people have good things to say about Cambodia. However my gf Whitney is a little nervous about going there. Glad you had a good experience! Thanks again!
Brian and I went to Ireland in September it was great, I have a friend who went to Cambodia and Thailand in October I will talk to her about your site sh might of some good ideas of places to see. Also, I have a good friend in South Africa’s are you going there?
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